Anthony Hope's classic tale gets a decidedly 'un-classic' treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers. Following the story somewhat, friends of the new King Rudolph of Ruritania fear for his ... See full summary »
This is a classic swashbuckler. Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V's identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation. If Rudolf V isn't present at the ceremony, he will forfeit the crown to his older half-brother. Complications ensue when Princess Flavia, the king's cousin and betrothed, begins to notice a "personality change" in her fiancé.Written by
Albert Sanchez Moreno <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director John Cromwell was not happy with his cast. In memos to David O. Selznick he said that Fairbanks and Niven were "overindulged and lazy." Colman "never knows his lines. I don't know which one of them annoys me most. Also, both Colman and Carroll insist they have a 'bad side' to be avoided by the camera, but it's the same 'bad side.' Shooting them face-to-face is all but impossible." Viewing the film today, it's hard to imagine either of them with a "bad" side, so this is obviously an overstatement . See more »
Princess Flavia gives Rassendyll a red rose in the garden. As it lies on a book a little while later, it is white. See more »
If anyone wants to see an excellent movie made before the banner cinematic year of 1939, this would be a film to watch. It could hardly have gone wrong, with David O. Selznick as producer and John Cromwell as director. And a superlative cast of popular stalwarts, mostly from Hollywood's British colony. Ronald Colman is his usual smooth and accomplished self in a dual role, King Rupert (of some fictitious country) and look-alike Englishman Rudolph Rassendyll, very distant cousins. The scenes in which he faces himself onscreen called `trick photography' then are remarkable for the period. Lovely Madeleine Carroll plays a princess, betrothed to the king. Her equal in elegance and beauty wasn't seen on the screen again until Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews. Many critics have praised Douglas Fairbanks, jr, as a likeable rogue. He's very good, in an easy role. My applause goes to the two stars. The film is a glamorous combination of romance, spectacle and adventure. Don't even dream of realism; there was too much realism in ordinary life during most of the Thirties. This is a grand escape to a time and place that never were. If I had to pick a favorite scene in the film, it would be the famous entrance of Colman and Carroll into the coronation ball. The shot opens on the couple, walking fast, arm in arm, directly toward us. The camera pulls back and back and BACK until the grand staircase of the palace and the entire ballroom, filled with people, are revealed. Visually and technically, this single fluid shot is a stunning achievement. It shows us the creative work that could be done at the time, by hugely talented artists, long before the advent of zoom lenses and computer graphics. Elegance and class are not hallmarks of most current movies. `The Prisoner of Zenda' (1937) is a stylish and very satisfying example a symbol, perhaps of what escapist entertainment can be. And of what it could and should be, now and then, even today.
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